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US and Israel lose voting rights in UNESCO

February 3, 2014 at 10:52 am

On Friday the United States and Israel lost their right to vote in UNESCO after failing to give clarification about suspending their contribution to the cultural international organisation, an informed source told AFP.

Both the US and Israel suspended their contribution to the $653 million budget of the organisation in protest against giving Palestine full membership two years ago.

The US contributes 22 per cent to the UNESCO budget and Israel contributes 3 per cent. After the withdrawal of the 25 per cent, the budget fell to $507 million. This jeopardised the jobs of about 300 employees.

Israelis did not want to see Palestine attain full membership in the organisation because Palestinians do not recognise Israel as a Jewish state, and this delays reaching a permanent peace agreement.

Another reason was that Israel did not accept that the Palestinians unilaterally went to the UN and called for recognition of a non-member state.

A third related reason was that Israel did not accept that UNESCO enlisted Palestinian historical places into the world heritage list.

While the United States said that its regulations restrict supporting any international organisation that includes Palestine as a member, until it reaches a permanent peace agreement with Israel.

Under UNESCO rules, the US and Israel had until Friday to pay their dues or automatically lose voting rights.

In a planned plenary session, a UNESCO source told AFP that it would announce the list of countries that would lose their voting rights.

The Palestinians were admitted to UNESCO in October 2011, when its General Assembly voted 107-14 to make Palestine its 195th member.